LLB European (French) / Maîtrise (Master 1)
Name: Alice Hutchings
Programme of study: LLB European (French) / Maîtrise (Master 1)
Year of graduation: 1985
Place of work: Michelmores LLP
Why did you choose to study Law at the University of Exeter?
I was torn between studying languages at University and studying law. The answer to my dilemma was to apply to the University of Exeter. Exeter was one of the first universities to offer a four year law degree with the option of studying French law, with the third year spent at a university in France.
How did your career path develop?
At the time I graduated (1985) there was still a heavy bias in the larger law firms to Oxbridge graduates. However the fact I was dually qualified in both English and French law gave me an edge on other applicants and I secured a number of offers of training contracts. I spent a few years with a London firm including a stint in their Paris office and following the professional exams I arranged to spend an internship at a leading US firm based in New York.
Once I had a family however, my priorities shifted and I wanted a job which would give me a regular working pattern. I joined the College of Law in 1990 as a Lecturer and stayed for 16 years, working part time. I really enjoyed being a Lecturer and Personal Tutor and found the regular hours and generous holiday provision ideal for someone like me with a young family.
In 2006 my family moved to Exeter and I was unable to continue as a Lecturer with the College, although I remained a Visiting Lecturer. I wondered if the door to the law had been closed to me, but after taking advice from the University's career service, I decided to apply to some local law firms. My experience both as a practising lawyer and in training quickly gained me a few interviews and within weeks found myself working as a part time Professional Support Lawyer with Michelmores LLP, one of the leading South West law firms. The firm was impressed by my background in legal practice and training as well as skills acquired in a variety of roles in the voluntary sector. Since joining Michelmores LLP I have played a key part in developing an in house training programme and knowledge management procedures.
What advice would you give current students?
It really helps with job applications if you have something (other than a brilliant law degree!) to offer. It might be that you can speak another language, or have some relevant work experience – this will help you to stand out from the crowd. Also, don’t assume the best jobs are in London! There are some excellent firms in the South West, for example, offering good training contracts and a good quality of life.